Pastor Peterson was deep in his armchair reading the telephone book. The church register was open beside him. He explained that he was preparing a sermon on Psalm 87. When I looked uncomfortably blank he reminded me that this was the Psalm behind the hymn “Glorious things of thee are spoken, Zion, city of our God.”
The census year had led him to reflect on the numbering of the people of God. Psalm 87 describes the glorious counting of the Gentiles among the citizens of Zion. At the moment, however, he was comparing the mainly Anglo-Saxon names of the church register with the cosmopolitan variety of the phone book. He had been scribbling some verses:
Maglioni, Gray, Brown
Are names now numbered
In the census count down.
Miss London, Naples,
Mr. Paris, France, Rome
Are all on record
In their U.S.A. home,
Along with others
Somewhat harder to spell,
Zyzniewski as well.
Each nose is counted
Every name is spelled out—
Are inscribed without doubt.
The rolls of heaven
Must be stranger by far;
His book of mercy
Who has numbered each star
Is filled with names from
Most outlandish places,
The gathered harvest
Of the scattered races.
For Wu and Suki,
They too are reckoned
With the sons of Zion.
I told the pastor that I rather preferred Newton’s poetry on the psalm, but that I would look forward to the sermon.
THE ONLY IRRELEVANCY
In directing Roman Catholics not to vote for communists in Italian elections, I believe that all Americans will cheer Pope John XXIII, rather than condemn His Holiness, as Dr. Glenn L. Archer attempts to do, by indirection, in his Open Letter to me in your issue of March 14, 1960.
Is Dr. Archer suggesting that the fine Protestant Ministers of our country would fail to instruct their flocks against communism? If so, Dr. Archer does not share my high opinion of the hundreds of Protestant Ministers with whom I have worked in various public causes and services during the last quarter of a century.
For Dr. Archer to read into the Vatican’s opposition to communism—an opposition which all loyal Americans applaud—the mischievous analogy that His Holiness would interfere with Senator John Kennedy, or any other Catholic candidate for high office in our government, is a deplorable exercise in semantics. It will be recognized as such by any thinking American. It will also be recognized as an expression of bigotry designed to split Americans apart, at the exact moment when our nation is face to face with a gigantic communist conspiracy to overthrow it. This is the time when all of us must join together as Americans and resist those who unwittingly serve the communist design of “divide and conquer.”
It was exactly on these grounds that I predicated my column attack on your publication’s “Bigotry or Smear” editorial. When I telephoned my neighbor and friend, the distinguished Dr. Ralph W. Sockman, and read your alarming editorial to him, I expressed my American belief that some leading Protestant clergyman should express an immediate reaction to the bigotry that had been expressed in your editorial.
Not only did Dr. Sockman agree with me, but he dictated these exact words to express his reaction: “We must keep the forthcoming Presidential campaign above religious partisanship and vote for candidates purely on the basis of their proven records as Americans.”
Dr. Archer charges that this cannot be construed as Dr. Sockman’s reaction. That silly answer needs no denial from me. Dr. Sockman read my column, in which I quoted his reaction, and if I had misquoted him, this outstanding Protestant Minister and American instantly would have corrected me.
Dr. Archer says that Senator Kennedy’s war heroism, outlined in my column, is wholly irrelevant. I suggest that in assaying the Americanism of any candidate, the matter of his war record is of vital importance, just as it is reassuring to all of us that Richard Nixon had a fine Navy record in World War II.
Incidentally, Vice President Nixon recently gave us a shining example of American rectitude when he sharply corrected a Republican who suggested that Senator Kennedy would be “soft” on communism. I’m sure every American glowed at that sort of behavior!
The only thing that is irrelevant is the religion of Richard Nixon or the religion of John Kennedy. Let us vote for or against candidates on the basis of their proven loyalty to our form of government, and on their ability to discharge the duties of the office they seek.…
I have never questioned either the religion or the color of any performer, in twelve years of our weekly TV shows. As a Catholic, two of my closest friends among professional performers, who have appeared frequently on our stage, are the fine pianist, Roger Williams, whose Dad is a Protestant Minister, and the delightful southern singer, Betty Johnson, whose brother is a Protestant Minister.
We have a staff of 130 men who work on our show 52 weeks a year. I wish you to believe that I could not, if my life depended on it, identify more than four or five of the total of 130, in terms of the religions they profess. From their names, I imagine that not less than 90% of these 130 men on my show are professed Protestants. Each of them is answerable only in point of ability. I’d discharge anyone on my staff who proposed to ask these men their religious affiliations.
During World War II, when I assembled groups of stars to entertain the wounded in Army, Navy, and Air Force hospitals all over our country, to supply Protestant, Jewish and Catholic chaplains with the monies they needed desperately to service the wounded men of their religions, I also organized at each hospital Chaplains’ Funds. The Protestant chaplains at such hospitals as Halloran, St. Albans, Thomas England General Hospital, and other installations, will tell you that they shared equally in the monies I raised.
In today’s mail, I received a letter from Dr. James Uhlinger, Pastor of the Wesley Methodist Church in Worcester, Massachusetts. I met this fine Minister while we were in Moscow last July, where we represented the United States at the request of our State Department. Pastor Uhlinger told me that in Moscow he had been delighted to meet a Worcester friend, Father Dion, the only Catholic priest stationed in Moscow. The friendship of these two men, one a Methodist Minister and one a Catholic Priest, seemed to me to be the most wonderfully effective expression of America that we could offer to the Communists.
If you saw our TV show from Russia you will recall that I emphasized our elation at the discovery that the anti-God and anti-American propaganda in Russia had fallen flat. It was heartening to discover that the Russian people, as distinguished from the relatively small group within the Communist party in that country, had resisted the bigoted viewpoint of their masters. With the help of God, all of us in America must resist bigotry in any form, and form our judgments of other Americans purely on the basis of their individual abilities and their dedication to the common good.
This was dramatized recently in Baltimore, when Maryland’s Governor J. Millard Tawes, a Mason, presented to me, a Catholic, a Masonic award, before an audience of Shriners who had assembled to pay me the honor which I will never forget.
New York, N. Y.
In the interests of fair play, I would like the privilege of equal space to comment on C. Stanley Lowell’s review (February 1 issue) of American Catholics: A Protestant-Jewish View (Sheed and Ward). I am willing to pass over in silence Mr. Lowell’s dislike of the chapters written by the Protestant contributors. It is his privilege to disagree with us, and he has clearly availed himself of it.
What I am not willing to pass over in silence are his disparaging remarks about the Catholic editor of the book. Mr. Lowell, in a remarkable burst of omniscience, says, “It would appear that the editor must have called the writers on the phone and said: ‘Look, will you be a good fellow and give me 3,000 words on what you think of American Catholics? You take history.’ ”
The most impressive thing about this statement is its solid disregard for the facts. I would like to acquaint your readers with a few of them. I first received a full letter from the editor, outlining the project. We had several exchanges before I took on the assignment. I was told about each of the other contributors. I was allowed to read the Catholic “response” before it was published. I was given several opportunities to add to my own manuscript. The editor deliberately decided not to remove repetitions in the various chapters, on the sound conviction that if independently-written chapters stressed similar “fears” about American Catholicism, Catholic readers would realize that there must be some substance to them. If the book therefore seems to Mr. Lowell a “hodgepodge,” he must attribute this to the inadequacies of the Protestant contributors and not to the Catholic sponsors.
But there is a more important point. Mr. Lowell does not simply cast aspersions upon the editorial ability of the Catholic editor, but goes on to impugn his integrity by declaring that participants in the Catholic-Protestant dialogue (of which the book is clearly an example) “must (sic) sign a loyalty oath (sic) to accept as infallible (sic) the Courtney Murray-John Cogley line on what the Roman church teaches in regard to religious liberty.”
This is a pretty categorical statement. Perhaps it is only meant to be cute hyperbole. It is certainly irresponsible hyperbole. And it must be countered with another categorical statement: the editor of the symposium exacted no “loyalty oath” from any contributor. There was no hint, threat or exercise of any censorship. He gave us complete freedom, in a Catholic-sponsored volume, to say whatever we chose about Catholicism—and many things are said that must cause pain to Catholic hearts.
As for the “infallibility” business, let me make three further categorical statements: (1) I do not believe John Courtney Murray is infallible. (2) I do not believe John Cogley is infallible. (3) I do not even believe John XXIII is infallible. Every contributor to the volume, save Father Weigel, accepts these three statements, and even he accepts the first two of them.
It is important that books be critically reviewed, but it is equally important that books be responsibly reviewed. No good purpose is possibly served by the irresponsible and false allegations I have quoted from Mr. Lowell’s review. These can only widen gaps that are already too wide. I found more love of Christ and love of truth in the editor of American Catholics, with whom I naturally disagree about many basic things, than I find in the whole of my fellow-Protestant’s review.
ROBERT MCAFEE BROWN
St. Andrews, Scotland
I do feel that the group centering in Union Theological Seminary represents a segment of Protestantism which is notoriously soft and uncomprehending in its confrontation of the aggressive designs of the Roman Church on our free culture. I feel that the “dialogue” between Protestants and Roman Catholics which is carried on largely under the aegis of this group is carefully rigged in favor of the Roman position on state aid. It is evident that any person advocating strict construction of the Constitution in regard to Catholic subsidies is systematically excluded. In this dialogue facts are consistently sacrificed to the obsession that kind words must always be spoken of the Roman Church.
Those who advocate holding the present money line between the state and the church are simply not invited to these sessions which become a “love feast” where it is assumed that subsidies ought to be provided for church institutions, and the discussion on this subject, when it comes up at all, is likely to be pitched to the proper amount which should go to the Roman Church. Men like Will Herberg, John Cogley, F. Ernest Johnson, John Bennett continually engage in these sessions of mutual congratulation without ever hearing a statement as to the distinctive church-state position which Protestant groups have predominantly followed in this country. The Catholics who appear on these programs like Cogley, Fr. Murray, William Clancy, etc., constitute a rotating panel of men who are used by the Roman Church to make graceful and gracious appearances advertising “what Catholicism is really like.” Fr. Murray and other priests who habitually participate in “the dialogue” have been ordered by their superiors not to participate if persons representing the POAU Supreme Court position on church subsidies are to appear.
This just means that any real dialogue is out of the question since it is rigged and loaded in advance so as to be a monologue. This was the inspiration for my remarks about the “oath of loyalty.” While I did not mean this in a literal sense, of course, I feel that it constituted a sound figure of speech, as also the word “infallible.”
You will be interested to know that William Clancy has even taken the position in Christianity and Crisis that since I insist on quoting papal encyclicals on the subject of religious freedom, I exhibit poor taste and should be barred from the dialogue. Virtually the same position in regard to POAU has been taken by this journal in a number of sharp attacks on POAU.
You ask what can “clear the air.” What can clear the air, it seems to me, is the insistence on a genuine and realistic dialogue if there is to be one. Such a dialogue must rest on the frank recognition that Protestantism confronts Romanism in a classic, unresolved and unresolvable tension. So long as Protestants are what they are and the Roman Church remains the dogmatic monolith it has permitted itself to become, there can be no resolution of the tension. Theologically, the only resolution possible would be in Rome’s renunciation of its false claims and abandonment of its innovations which outrage the Gospel. Useful dialogue can commence only at the point of open and frank acknowledgment of unresolved and unresolvable tension. As Dr. Van Dusen has helpfully suggested, the confrontation of Roman Catholicism should be in the same manner as the confrontation of Judaism—or any other non-Christian faith. As to the political phase, the viewpoint that church institutions and programs should be voluntarily financed and denied state subsidies should no longer be refused a hearing.
Such a dialogue would be real dialogue. It would be an actual confrontation without sham and posturing. Then there would be no more rigging of the rules, no more exclusion of those who “don’t play fair with the Catholics.” When this is achieved—and you can do much to achieve it—the day of the phony dialogue will be over and the genuine dialogue will have begun. If Roman Catholics are ordered out of the dialogue because their terms and control are jeopardized, then its death would be constructive.
C. STANLEY LOWELL
Protestants and Other Americans United
Washington, D. C.
Protestantism has so many forms; it includes so many theologies; it is divided into so many denominations that cannot serve as a guide to lead the contemporary world out of its present confusion. If in Romanism we find a neo-paganism, in Protestantism we discover an unprecedented religious anarchy and scepticism. It seems to me that Protestants and Roman Catholics alike have been engaged in quarrels for the past four centuries to such an extent that they have forgotten the original Ecclesia of Christ, the One, Holy, Orthodox, Catholic and Apostolic Church; the Church of the martyrs and the saints; the Church which has suffered the bloodiest persecutions ever experienced in the history of Christendom, even in the twentieth century, for Christ.
You see, it is not sufficient for a religious denomination or Church to have great names in its theology and letters. A living Church is one which may not include big names but which produces what the Christian Church is supposed to produce! “A tree is known by its fruit” (Mat. 12:33). Probably, it is high time that Protestants and Roman Catholics alike turn to the Eastern Orthodox Catholic Church and discover the Christ of the undivided Christian Ecclesia.
DEMETRIOS J. CONSTANTELOS
St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church
Perth Amboy, N. J.
Liberalism is the death rattle of the Church.… We may feel that the Roman Church has placed an unwarranted burden upon her members by making them receive as essential to salvation non-scriptural dogmas but nevertheless in spite of all this the Roman Church has remained true to the historical facts of Christianity and to authentically proclaiming the dogmas of the Incarnation, Atonement and Resurrection.
ROBERT M. COLLINS
St. Thomas Episcopal Church
There has been no mention made of the fact that a President, Catholic or otherwise, has many, many appointments to be made, and many of them are of vital importance. Our late President Roosevelt, by reason of his extended term of office, had the privilege of appointing about 375 out of 525 Federal Judges—making most of them young men in their early 40’s, so that they would be in office for the next 30 years. Any lawyer will tell you that Federal Judges have almost unlimited power, and there are about 50% of the cases that can be determined either way, and ample authority found for it, and once decided, it is very difficult to secure a reversal. Then there are hundreds of other appointments.…
ERNEST H. PENDELL
Tryon, N. Car.
Will you please, please, please tell me why every writer in every religious and every secular publication scrupulously avoids even mentioning the fact that we are, at the same time, electing a Commander-in-Chief of all of our Armed Forces???…
FLORENCE M. STANDISH
San Francisco, Calif.
In terms of wealth and world influence the Vatican ranks with the major powers of the world.… Representation at this crossroads of the world would be extremely advantageous to us in the U. S.… An envoy should be sent to the Vatican. Diplomatic relations should be officially established. All Vatican representatives in the U. S. should be registered (and labeled) as agents for a foreign power.
T. EDSEL WARREN
My reading of late has included many books and/or treatises to the effect that unless we are very careful:
1. The “sects” are going to take us over. 2. The Baptist Church is out to control all. 3. The Communists just about have us. 4. The Catholics think it is now their time.
At times it seems that any of the above may happen. Then, I remember I am a Christian. That always brings out the best in me.
M. CLARKE GARRISON
Hot Springs, Ark.
In reference to your editorial concerning Lent (Mar. 14 issue), I have not the slightest intention of giving any observance to this pagan practice this year or any year for that matter. You omitted a reference to the goddess Ishtar, which would have pleased a great many of your readers.
Washington, D. C.
Historically the basic concept of Lent was not “a time of prayer and fasting in memory of our Lord’s passion and death.” It was originally the period of intensive training and instruction (such as is found in the first six chapters of the Didache) for converts from heathenism in preparation for their Baptism at Easter. To such classes for catechumens older Christians were urged to come as a refresher course. All believers looked forward to the glorious day of Easter when the great good news was celebrated.…
MONTGOMERY HUNT THROOP
South Orange, N. J.
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